Republican Senator Unveils New Minnesota Sports Betting Proposal

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Feb 18, 2024 07:00 PM
Republican Senator Unveils New Minnesota Sports Betting Proposal

The legalization of sports betting in the USA usually requires bi-partisan support in each state. Exceptions exist, but they are far from the rule. For the most part, states are unable to green light sports gambling on the back of one party. More than occasionally, this means starting with initiatives proposed by Republicans. And in 2024, that could be good news for Minnesota sports betting.

Republican Senator Jeremy Miller recently unveiled a proposal that would legalize sports betting in Minnesota. His measure is considered groundbreaking in the sense that it was cobbled together using feedback from both Republicans and Democrats. That makes it something of a bi-partisan bill.

Still, many will focus on the measure being proposed by the Republican side in general. And it’s tough to blame them. Anecdotally speaking, right-leaning policymakers seem less likely to support all initiatives from the left than vice versa. Take the issue of Texas sports betting as an example. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has essentially said he wouldn’t consider a Texas sports betting bill that comes from the Democrats. This isn’t to say he’s supported Republicans who want gambling; he hasn’t. But his resistance speaks to The Right’s propensity for maintaining strict party lines. 

That’s why the 2024 Minnesota sports betting bill introduced by Senator Miller is such a big deal. Bi-partisan feedback is important. Incredibly so. But by his taking the lead, it increases the likelihood that Republican lawmakers on the fence about Minnesota sports betting might embrace it. 

Of course, rallying theoretical support is merely part of the battle. This initiative needs actual support from not only Republican and Democratic lawmakers, but from the state’s tribes and then, potentially, voters. Will it cross the finish line? Let’s see whether we can find out by parsing the bill’s most pertinent details.

Senator Miller’s Minnesota Sports Betting Bill Could Be the Most Effective Initiative Yet

Despite plenty of optimism over more recent legal Minnesota sports betting proposals, the state’s efforts are believed to have peaked back in 2021. The permutations of legal sports betting discussed then were decidedly bi-partisan, earning widespread approval from Democrats and Republicans and even Independents. 

Since then, the state has typically run into partisan red tape. Plenty of issues have bubbled to the surface over the past few years. Overall, though, the parties have been split on the inclusion of racetracks as part of Minnesota sports betting legalization. Generally speaking, Republicans want tracks to receive sports betting licenses. Democrats (and tribes), on the other hand, tend to oppose that model. They are willing to earmark shares of Minnesota sports betting revenue for tracks to receive. But they have thus far remained against these establishments getting independent licenses.

These sentiments haven’t changed. The latest Minnesota sports betting efforts are facing this exact same opposition from policymakers (and, again, tribes). And that’s why many are skeptical Senator Miller’s bill can bridge the gap. However, he feels differently. He says that his bill “incorporates feedback received from constituents, legislators and a variety of stakeholders,” per Legal Sports Report’s Pat Evans. 

Collaborating with voters and fellow legislators as well as state tribes and racetracks is, in no uncertain terms, a big deal. It’s what makes Senator Miller’s Minnesota sports betting efforts the most promising the state has seen since 2021. But will that be enough to get the legislation over the hump?

Here’s How the Latest Minnesota Sports Gambling Proposal Differs from Past Proposals

Approaching the future of Minnesota sports betting with a healthy dose of skepticism is fair game. But the newest proposal, to its credit, does seek to address concerns that have derailed past efforts. Three adjustments stand out above the rest:

  • Senator Miller’s proposal calls for all 11 of the state’s tribes to receive Minnesota sports betting licenses.
  • The initiative would give tribes the option to “partner with Minnesota horse racing tracks and professional sports stadiums for in-person sportsbooks.”
  • A flat 15 percent tax rate would be applied to all sports betting revenue.

That second bullet point is perhaps the most important. Last year’s sports gambling efforts called for Minnesota racetracks to receive a percentage of sports betting revenue. Though the state’s tribes generally supported that model, the horse racing tracks and their supporters didn’t think it was enough.

Adding in the ability for tribes to partner with tracks might represent a happy medium. Other states, in fact, have legalized sports betting using a similar model with online sportsbooks in the United States. In many cases, offering the option to partner with mobile USA betting sites has assuaged tribal opposition to their corporate counterparts operating inside the market.

Senator Miller’s bill basically takes the same approach with race tracks. And if his proposal was indeed constructed with feedback from both tribes and tracks, there’s a good chance support for his initiative, aptly called Minnesota Sports Betting Act 2.0, to pass through both the House and Senate.

Hurdles Remain in the Push to Legalize Sports Gambling Throughout Minnesota in 2024

Of course, none of this means anything until Senator Miller’s proposal engenders official bi-partisan support when it’s put to a vote. And despite mounting optimism, a couple of challenges remain.

When 2024 Minnesota legislative meetings began on February 12, sources told Legal Sports Report that Republicans and Democrats were further apart than public sentiments suggested. Similar divergence has transpired in the past. Sponsors of a bill wax poetic about its chances to the press, only for it to be shot down.

In this instance, the 2024 Minnesota sports betting proposal will likely face its toughest test in the Senate. That’s where the starkest separation on the racetrack issue lies. It is also where the last Minnesota sports betting bill was killed.

Will things be different this time around? It sure sounds like it. But we’ve heard this song and seen this dance before. So, in reality, there may be no telling what happens next.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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